How do I go about my party plan and menu tricks? PRO ADVICE needed

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Joined Sep 2, 2019
I'm throwing a bday party and contemplating either catering, doing it myself or a little bit of both.
I could use serious pro tips of anything you'd like to offer.

It's an all day event beginning lunch to late night menu.
Daytime will be outside on our deck. Night time will be inside house.

1pm arrival time for around 15 guests

Tentative menu:


goat cheese, beets, avocado and watermelon salad - what's the best dressing for this?
lumpia which will be cooking outside - frying -- any advice on good outdoor frying equipment that's more portable than bulky?
lobster rolls
waygu beef on hot stone so we all cook it ourselves like I did in a restaurant - appreciate any advice on cooking sizzling stone/equipment I should use? Where should I get my wagyu beef in LA?

at sunset it would be scrumptious to have oysters and sparkling wine outdoors.
Any advice on this?
I think I should hire an oyster Master - anyone know anyone in the Los Angeles area they can recommend who will deliver exceptional oysters? This would be really special. I'll bring out the cake at sunset also which is still TBD what kind - very important decision.

And then for dinner

ravioli butternut squash in brown butter and sage. I need to have this catered - any suggestions Chefs? Los Angeles area!!

salmon - I can make it - any favorite garlic recipes or special recipes? I have a few weeks to practice!
adobo chicken - I will also make
served with rice and sides -- recommendations on sides?

It would be a dream for a taco lady to show up at midnight so we might have a taco lady come with cart and all. I have the connect for an amazing taco lady - but if you do also, I'd love the info!
Still tentative if my lady is available.
Any pizza suggestions open very late in the LA area?

also going to make
madeleines - I was thinking of making them the day before? or is it much much better the day of?
Also Ina Garten's chocolate crisps - also the day before.

It's an ambitious menu for me but I'm very excited! Hoping to do all prep work the day before. What else should I do the day, week before?

Any professional advice, tips or recipes, essential equipment etc to make my party go smoothly greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time and expertise.

Cheers!
 
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
You should hire a professional caterer.

This is a ridiculous event to try and do by yourself with no experience, time, or knowledge about how to organize and plan an all day cooking event for 15 people. You will end up stuck in the kitchen all day, sweating and prepping while your guests stroll about and enjoy the party. Hire someone to do it for you, so you can mingle and enjoy your party.

It honestly seems like overkill. Sizzling stones and wagyu beef for lunch? How are 15 people going to sit around hot stones to cook beef?

Lobster rolls? Filipino food? THEN oysters? THEN cake? THEN appetizer? THEN dinner? THEN tacos? THEN pizza?

Come on. Who is gonna eat all that?

Your ambition and heart are obviously in the right place, but I think you would be biting off way more than you can chew (and overkill) and it could be a disaster.

My advice would be to simplify and pick a few things you want to do really well. Maybe like fresh lobster rolls and beet/avocado salad for lunch, maybe followed by some light afternoon finger food. Then oysters at sunset, then dinner, cake, etc.

If you think you need a late night snack, then I would pick either tacos or pizza. If I lived in LA I would pick tacos.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
If I were to cater this it would be $250 to $300 per person. And I would probably go crazy doing it. This way to much food and is a bit Helter Skelter.

You know what you need so farm it out. Call some restaurants that cater and look into some Chilled Seafood platters. They may also have a person to send along to shuck oysters. You could do a broiled Tenderloin that could be sliced for sliders. That would be enough for lunch along with some, made ahead salads.

The evening could be catered or a Chef could be hired to accomplish some of your needs. It's only 15 people so that would be easy with a few apps and the main dinner.
 
368
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
Wow that is very intense menu. While a lot the items are nice, they really don't all go together. Your culinary fare is all over the place. When I first started hosting events this is kinda what I felt like, but I hope I can give you some advice so you don't have to repeat any mistakes I made.

First off, you didn't give us a budget, which is going to play a huge part in this.

Second, if you are doing a party like this pick a theme. That way you can decorate and plan any activities to coincide with your food. While a large spread may seem like a great idea to appease all tastes, it will be much more fluid with a single theme for your party.

Third, cut down your food. With an all day event I have learned putting too much food at the beginning will ruin your later fare. Everyone will pick and snack during your beginning and not really be hungry for dinner. I would do simple fare like hors d'oeurves and platters of vegetables/fruit/charcutiere what ever you prefer. Now would be a good time to maybe serve a special themed cocktail of the day as well.

Dinner again should be simple and include maybe one or two sides or a vegetarian option and some family style sides. Again don't go overboard, it always looks like it won't be enough food but trust me you will have platters of food left with what you are suggesting.

For dessert pick one thing. If the birthday person likes cake do cake. You don't need the other two things.

If you must have a midnight snack go with something easy like chips (homemade or store bought) with some nice dips or spreads. A taco cart is again a little overboard and with as much food as you are suggesting I can't believe anyone would have much room left unless they have just been binge drinking all day.

Hope it work out and this helped you any.
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
I agree with everything Seoul Food Seoul Food and chefbillyb chefbillyb has said.

I would also like to add that food storage and holding is going to be a very serious issue for you if you go with a menu of this size and variety. Most residential refrigerators and appliances simply do not have the capacity to hold this many ingredients and dishes.

Chefbillyb asks a great question.....what is your budget? The Wagyu beef alone for 15 people will cost several hundred dollars or more. On top of that, if you live in the US, there is very little chance that the Wagyu beef you do buy will be real Wagyu beef from Japan.

To pull off a menu of this size and this complex, you would need multiple assistants and uncanny timing with zero complications.

Trim down the menu and focus on a specific theme, as suggested. When you have done that, we will be more than happy to offer any specific advice on how to plan, prep and serve the menu.

Good luck. :)
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
I agree with everything Seoul Food Seoul Food and chefbillyb chefbillyb has said.

I would also like to add that food storage and holding is going to be a very serious issue for you if you go with a menu of this size and variety. Most residential refrigerators and appliances simply do not have the capacity to hold this many ingredients and dishes.

Chefbillyb asks a great question.....what is your budget? The Wagyu beef alone for 15 people will cost several hundred dollars or more. On top of that, if you live in the US, there is very little chance that the Wagyu beef you do buy will be real Wagyu beef from Japan.

To pull off a menu of this size and this complex, you would need multiple assistants and uncanny timing with zero complications.

Trim down the menu and focus on a specific theme, as suggested. When you have done that, we will be more than happy to offer any specific advice on how to plan, prep and serve the menu.

Good luck. :)
Yeah I completely forgot about that aspect. Nothing like prepping a large stainless bowl of something, putting it in the fridge only to have it take up all the space and now what do you do.
 
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Joined Sep 2, 2019
Hi again chefs!

Thank you for taking time to write out your comments. I decd
 
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Joined Sep 2, 2019
Hi again

Thanks for your comments I appreciate it!

So I changed the menu to simplify:



LUNCH
salmon
salad
(something else?)
cake


MIDAFTERNOON
ribs (beef)
skewers? veggies? shrimp?
mashed potatoes
(something else?)
cake


DINNER
adobo
rice
a green dish
a tomato dish
cake

I was thinking of an olive oil, chocolate and cheese tasting with my special tomato spread to start served with really small baguette pieces so they don't get too full.

Then serving lunch 2 hours later which is pretty light.

What do you think? any advice appreciated on timing, prep and simple high impact delicious recipes. It's coming up! What do you think I should prep the day before?

Thanks!!

btw I have 2 refrigerators, upper and lower ovens, stove with 4 burners, 1 portable oven and I can't use the microwave for more than 20 seconds or it kills the fuse!!
 
1,749
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
I'm still baffled. What is going on.

Why cake 3 separate times throughout the day?

You are serving 3 meals in a 2 meal time frame. Why serve beef ribs and mashed potatoes (and skewers??) as an afternoon SNACK?

Lunch looks fine...salmon and a nice salad is a good light lunch.

Your mid afternoon snack shouldn't be another meal. Who is going to want to eat salmon for lunch, then beef ribs, then chicken adobo for dinner? Too much.

Mid afternoon snack should be, like, cheese and charcuterie or something. Your idea of oysters at sunset was good. Something like that. Not grilled beef ribs. Or you could cut the beef ribs and serve the chocolate/cheese tasting as the snack. You don't need to serve something before lunch.

It's overkill.

I think hammering down a theme or something like that would give you some focus so you're not so scattershot. I think you are underestimating how much work this is going to be for 1 person.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2015
If you want to try enjoy the party but spend most of the day in the kitchen cooking and serving guests, plan easy nice stuff that you can pop in an over, reheat, or serve cold. Working on a yacht its not uncommon to have 10 guests and 7-9 crew. All eating different things, different times everyday. My days start at 5:30 am and am cleaned up around 10-11 p.m with no breaks.

If you want to really enjoy the party, hire someone. But there is a lot to think about by your self having enough plates, silverware, pots, pans, serving platters, utensils, oven space, fridge space and how ever long you plan on giving yourself add 30% extra time. I sometimes have to cook for up to 25 people by myself. You won't have time to talk or mingle if you take on this by yourself no matter how simple you make the menu. good luck
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
What time are your guests arriving? If it is near the lunch time I would go with the lunch minus the cake. Completely skip your mid afternoon snack course as it is. If there is going to be a significant time between when lunch ends and dinner starts you can do a small snack platter. Fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses or even just chips and dips. You dinner is probably okay if your greens/tomato dishes are sides, not meals. I'm telling you your menu as written is way too much food in a day. Unless you are doing tapas sized or smaller portions, your guests will be full after lunch and not want to eat for a long time.

As others have already talked about, unless you want to spend all the time in the kitchen avoiding your quests, you need to cut the menu down in size and difficulty. I did Thanksgiving for two dozen of my family last year and even mapping everything out and starting the night before I spent a large amount of time in the kitchen.

If would be better to do a few really well done and presented dishes to sate your guests appetite rather than a whole bunch of mediocre dishes with everyone going into a food coma half way through the day.
 
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Joined Sep 2, 2019
Thanks for the advice. It was a bit of a disaster in the beginning prep as you predicted but overall a success.
Everyone had a great time and we had THREE CAKES, two of the ones I got kinda sucked it was so last minute but one of our food centric guests brought delicious cake from a boutique store so it worked out -- red velvet. I initially wanted to get a Celebration cake or the Marble cake from Susie Cakes, fail proof, but like I said ...disaster. Ended up not buying all the food until the morning of because our delivery didn't work out the night before etc so I wasn't able to do any prep until 10:30am.

In a way it's good because the salmon was super fresh and that's what I made. I bought 3 long outdoor tables and umbrellas and beautiful linens so the place was looking very minimalistic, clean and comfortable with ocean and mountain views. We just moved so it's also kind of a house warming get together since it's the first time for everyone to come. There were a total of 17 people and I had gorgeous orchids on every table including the bathrooms and living room. I was very happy with my exotic flowers :)

I cooked the salmon in my upper oven ...the bottom oven I was going to use for the baguette but it started smoking!! so I stuck the bread in the upper oven while the fish was done and resting. I overcooked the baguette. I forgot to put capers but the combination of butter, white wine, garlic, sweet onions and all the herbs made for a scrumptious dish -- fresh herbs like thyme, a hint of dill (not too much), parsley lots of lemon slices and cooked it at 420 degrees for 14 minutes broiled for 1 minute and 20 seconds...let sit for about 8-10 minutes and served it with potato salad, rice and green beans. I cooked it a minute too long in my honest nit picking opinion but everyone liked it. I used an injector thingie ...that thing you press with a bunch of needle points to inject the seasoning ---what do you call that? Anyway I used it so all the seasoning went inside the fish especially the garlic that slightly toasted which people noticed and enjoyed.

I had a charcuterie board --- green and violet grapes, prosciutto, salami, gruyere, manchego, gouda, goat cheese, comte and brie. I did not skimp on my cheese!! I also included different kinds of salts I bought from Dean and Deluca before they shut down their store in Napa -- lava salt, sea salt ghost (spicy) and mushroom rosemary. People started trickling in at 1pm and I served the salmon around 2:30pm. Everyone had champagne when they arrived. Oh I also served a side of green salad with lemon zesty vinaigrette and thousand island both of which I made from scratch!

During my prep in the morning, I quickly marinated the chicken adobo (without the vinegar - does this really cause it to get harder?) and served it for dinner with my Botan rice. I cooked it for 2 1/2 hours at 300 degrees, broiled for 10 minutes -- soy sauce, vinegar and salt and pepper on the chicken. I normally sear this first but didn't want to fuss with that on the day of so it came out an 8 on a 10 scale. Lots of booze to go along with the food - wine, champagne, beer, whiskey, vodka, tequila and fresh juice. So there you have it! The celebrant received lots of gifts and love and was very very happy and grateful.

Thank you for all the advice I really appreciate it!

I'm prepping for Thanksgiving next. But it's only for 5 people this time. What are you making for Thanksgiving? Looking for ideas and recipes. I'm shopping for a turkey roaster too. Have a great day all!
 
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I forgot to say that I included a lot of minced and garlic cloves in the adobo -- a staple ingredient of the dish! Also included a peach-mango preserve with the charcuterie and crackers. And watermelon wedges and chips, nuts...there were a lot of snacks between lunch and dinner. We had the cake at sunset and sang happy birthday. It was golden hour so perfect. That was my favorite part of the day!
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
I'm glad it went well. Now knowing what you know and experiencing it all can you imagine trying to do your original menu? It sounds like you and your guests had a wonderful time and no one left hungry.

I always do classic dishes for Thanksgiving if I am having family over. If it is just myself and my family I may change some ingredients in dishes but overall it's just variations on classics. I picked up one of those big electric roasters you see in big box stores near the holidays as I had to do ham and turkey one year with all the sides and the turkey came out great, and it cooks relatively fast. The downside is you aren't going to be able to get crispy skin in it, not sure if that is a issue for you or not.
 
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Thanks for following up with how everything went, not enough people do things like that. Glad it went well!
 
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